112 pearls around the neck
on the dot, everyone back in their cell and the sharp noise of those electric doors. Every one of us in her
sordid world.
I spent my four months there for federal offence. When I had paid for my crime, I went to immigration
prison and was presented to a judge. That’s when my husband was finally able to get me a lawyer and I
got out with a $9,000 immigration bail and another $5,000 in lawyer fees; and all he did was make four
phone calls.
During those three days, I also saw the worst side of humanity. Numerous dramas, many women
who’d been raped by their own smugglers, women from all over the world: Brazil, Honduras, Poland,
Asia. I saw a Dominican whose back was raw she’d crossed a river and barbed wire had torn her skin
off. Everything was abuse and rape. When we started talking, they asked where I had come from and
I answered: “From the Texas prison,” and then they told me their sad stories. At some point, one of
them asked: “How come you don’t cry when you hear our stories?” I had already cried so much that
my eyes seemed to have dried out.
Then they released me. I was free. It was 4 pm and it was bitterly cold. Alone, in the town of El Paso,
wearing the same clothes I had been wearing four months ago. In this horrible cold. The bus only came
at 9 pm. When I finally made it home, after three days of traveling, it was Thanksgiving. My youngest,
who knew nothing of what had happened, thought I was just coming back from Mexico and asked me
if I had presents from the market… from my village’s market. But I had nothing, nothing… nothing but
the cigarette stench that stuck to me. He looked at me and asked: “Mom, why do you look like such a
An interview with María de Jesús García Sánchez, Mexico, 2011
English translator: Sylvie Froschl
Illustration: Catherine Beeckman
Previous Page Next Page